Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Green

My fishing trips in 2008 were great but while planning for 2009 I realized that the variety of water fished was not all that diverse. To add to the diversity David and I put the Green River on our list of spots to hit during the 2009 season. Having only been married a week David headed off with me for a day trip to Utah's most prolific tailwater, most prolific in terms of fish density at least. Some estimates put the fish count for the first 7 miles below Flaming Gorge Dam at 20,000 fish per mile! About a week or so before we left I found out that they were going to increase the flows from 800 cfs (winter flows) up to 4500 cfs. Sometimes the first day or two after they crank up the flows the fishing can turn off a bit. Luckily the two phase/two day increase was finished a few days prior to our trip so things would be stabilized by the time we got there. I met up with David about 6 am and before we knew it we were cruising through the high desert of Wyoming. We were quickly aproaching a small highway that shaves off a half hour from the more standard Rock Springs route that Google Maps comes up with. The drive went very quickly as we got caught up in good conversation. A large field of massive windmills broke the monotony of the rolling hills of sagebrush.

I normally have taken the southern route through Utah that passes south of the Uintas so it was fun to have a little change this time. We soon spotted the massive Flaming Gorge Reservoir and about 20 minutes or so later we were driving over the dam.

We quickly made it to Dutch John then headed down Little Hole Road that takes you to an access point seven miles below the dam. We were pumped when we first spotted the river.

We paid a small fee to the nice lady at the booth, parked, and then proceeded to go through the torturous process of rigging the rods up while the river waited below. It was a bit chilly in the morning with a cool breeze blowing down the canyon. I had repaired an old pair of neoprene waders recently and due to the chill I thought I would be ok wearing them for the day. Unfortunately I quickly found out that my repair job was fruitless and I quickly had wet feet. The first stop was at the Little Hole boat launch. There is a large back eddy that I usually can pull a few fish out of. After a little while David had one on but it let go instantly. We decided to head up the trail and we soon starting spotting fish along the bank. David stuck the first fish, a nice brown with a lot of yellow/gold coloring.

We continued to hike upstream often fishing within a rods length of the bank. At one point we were taking turns nymphing the same stretch. We would pitch out our rigs one at a time and walk down the trail maximizing our drift, then we would repeat the process. We nailed some very fine browns as we worked the banks.

David hooked one fish and every time he would get it near it would take off. This happened over and over. Then we found out why, it was the first rainbow of the day.

The browns seemed to bulldog and use the current while the rainbows had a no quit attitude. Despite the higher flows, the water was true to Green River form running gin clear while the bottom vegetation makes the river appear very green in many areas.

Although the fishing was not fast the action came consistently which included some heartbreaking misses. In one instance I was nymphing through some very large submerged boulders and I set the hook on a fish and it started running away from me. Just as I got very excited the line went slack, ahhh. Oh well, such misses get your mind racing on what could have been and keeps you motivated for more. The fly of the day was a wine colored san juan worm in a size 14. The other producer was a size 16 tungsten beaded zebra midge in black or orange. We tried throwing a chernobyl ant which got a look or two but that was it. By the time we were headed back toward the car the sun was scorching.

We were being burned alive in our neoprene waders. We stopped to refuel in Dutch John and grabbed a few drinks to cool ourselves down. To maximize fishing time we ate our lunch in the car on the way to the dam. We parked and headed down the trail capturing some beautiful vistas of the river below.

The trail down to the water at the dam is steep but short thankfully. We hit a likely spot just above the boat launch.

On about my second drift my indicator shot under and I had a fish running me downstream and out toward swifter water. I yelled something to David like "big fish, big fish!" The fish found a fairly large boulder under water and got himself wrapped around it or under it because for a few seconds it felt like I was snagged. I put a little more pressure and was able to move him away from the boulder. I saw that it was a nice sized rainbow. It was a little tricky to land the fish as he wanted to dive down under the rocks lining the bank but we manged to land him finally.

It turned out to not be too big but it was a niced sized fish and the most beautiful rainbow I have ever caught. He was speckled like crazy, a fine specimen indeed.

We were very impressed with how fat the fish were. The browns were very thick shouldered and the rainbows were plump and healthy. Years previous I had caught quite a few snakey fish but this trip it was nothing but thick healthy fish. After a bit we worked our way downstream a little ways and we targeted some dark shadows on the river bottom.

The sheer beauty of the canyon was invigorating to the soul and David managed to capture a little of what we experienced in the following picture.

It was time to start heading back upstream. After a few last desperation casts to some fish milling around near the boat launch we called it a day and headed back up the steep trail to our car. We were tired but our spirits were high and some more good conversation made the trip back home go by quickly. As David put it, the day was filled with "green, brown, and the rest of the spectrum."